Be the Change You Want to See in the World

Roxana Anton

Photo by Felix Koutchinski on Unsplash

With such a huge challenge, who has time to criticize others?

Dearest Friends and Readers, how are you these days?

I hope well, as here in Italy we are facing a sort of a lockdown again, what I call “the Orange Lockdown”, meaning that we are only allowed to go out to shops to buy basic things, for work and for medical care. And we are free to have walks, jogging, which is fine with me. I am lucky enough, in a way, to live by the seaside, so my everyday walks include lots of colors, a green landscape, and lots of gorgeous sunsets.

I feel like today’s world with social medial is very visual, and very judgmental about everything. I mean everything.

I grew up in Romania, (I was 5 when Ceausescu was killed), rising from the communist era, where everybody had to follow the same pattern. You could not distinguish yourself. Your true qualities, your unique self had to be silenced and somehow, neglected. You were not very much allowed to have special qualities, and if you did, you were sort of a “weirdo”. I lived with that feeling all my teenage years.

Today, if you do distinguish from the average, you are also a “weirdo”, bullied and criticized. Are we never going to decide? What is “good” and “cool”: following the pattern or standing out?

At least, this is how I grew up. I always had to do my best to be “like everyone else” and “above everyone else”. But never my true self. I never even know what my true self was really about.

The nineties of my teenage dream were fabulous in many ways, but we were stuck in the “perfect role model”: our purpose in life was to be great in school, go to university, have a highly-paying job, a perfect family, and so on. That was a sort of “stereotype” for everybody, and if you would dare to break the rules you would be criticized by society. You would be “a bad person”.

When I did get to university, things became complicated, because I realized I didn’t know who I really was. And what I really truly wanted. I had all sorts of ideas of what others wanted from me, 19 years of my life before, but almost no idea about who I wanted myself to be.

I didn’t even know it was important. I didn’t know if I could speak to anyone about it.

For a very long time, I was judging myself in a rough way. Because I am almost never what people expect from me. I never seem to be able to do what others want from me. I like it my own way. Am I good or bad?

Today, I live in Italy and you would think things got better, well, not much.

I am a foreigner anyway, though I am more integrated now than before. But people here in Italy are judgemental too, maybe because it’s a small village by the seaside. They have patterns about foreign people. They put etiquettes that are almost impossible to break. Why aren’t we Romanian women sleeping with people for money, like they think we all do? Why am I not like most women, marry, and have kids? Why am I not dressing like everyone else my age? What am I actually doing, for a living? Why am I not doing what everyone else is? Why don’t I struggle to make a lot of money? and so on.

My mother and her generation belong to the communist mentality: wake up early in the morning, have a 9 to 5 job, work very hard, sacrifice everything for money, give all your money and worth to someone else. Always be poor, live poorly, stay cold in winter, stress about paying the bills, judge everybody, stay away from most people. Unhealed stereotypes, over and over again.

Sometimes, I feel that I don’t like to be like anyone else as a form of protest, for a life where I always had to do what I had to do, above what I truly wanted.

At the same time, I judge myself for not being like others, not following that pattern. Being a woman makes it even worse.

When you have been judged and criticized every second of your life, for a very long time, you will criticize yourself too, think there’s something wrong with you. That you are not “okay” the way you are. You lose self-confidence and self worth. In my opinion, criticizing is a form of abuse.

I am not a therapist, but I tend to believe that criticizing someone for their personal choices and lifestyle is pure nonsense, as long as they don’t bother other people.

Why should I be put down because I don’t like to wake up in the morning, and prefer to work after 16:00 p.m.? I don’t know, this is how I function best, and I’m trying to find a schedule that works with that. And I know most people don’t understand it, but at the same time, they don’t live my life and I don’t live theirs.

My modest opinion is that we must think very wisely before judging someone’s life(if he doesn’t do wrong to people around him). In Orthodox spirituality, one of the golden rules is: never judge anyone, as bad as he might seem. Never be the first to throw your stone at someone.

I am responsible for my own life, and what I make of it. Not for someone else’s. I must not worry about how other people choose to live, it’s their own responsibility.

I chose to write on Medium, and I am afraid to share it with most people because they would not understand it because I’m not doing it for money. Absolutely no one understands.

I do it for pure pleasure. I consume hours of my time, for “nothing”.

I really wish more people would embrace the Orthodox way of thinking. Respect everyone, learn, and apply only what is suitable for you.

Everyone is unique in the Universe. We apply the same rules, differently. We should learn to be ok with that.

Become more responsible for your own path and development, instead of judging others and tell them how to create theirs. You can inspire, not force.

When you will stop judging others and focus on yourself, your life will become less toxic.

Be yourself the change you want to see in the world.
Live, and let others live.

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I bring you news of general interest from trustful sources. Freelance writer, translator, and novelist.


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